Hunting in National Parks

Environmental Vandalism

Not Smart Conservation

By Sharon McGrigor

It's a dark day for our National Parks with volunteer hunting programs set to begin.

The Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2012 becomes law in March, allowing hunters to use guns, rifles and bows and arrows to kill their prey in nearly 800 National Parks in NSW. The only parks excluded include ones near urban areas, wilderness areas & world heritage listed parks. That means Goonengerry NP & Whian State Conservation Area will be open for hunting.

 There are grave fears within communities across NSW that drunk ‘thrill hunters’ will roam our National Parks, putting tourists, campers, bushwalkers, NPWS staff & native species at ‘high risk’ of being shot. Steve Turner of the Public Service Association said rangers had reached boiling point after the risk assessment listed parks' staff, contractors and volunteers at the top of those at risk of ''projectiles'', including bullets and the arrows of bow hunters. Not surprisingly, park rangers overwhelmingly oppose hunting in NSW National Parks and many believe it will also damage existing feral animal control programs.

The first comprehensive survey of NPWS staff & rangers, who will have to oversee the shooting program, found just over half the NPWS staff surveyed said they had already ''witnessed and observed signs of unauthorised hunting in National Parks'', and many gave details of dead native animals, and unsafe hunting practices. Kangaroos shot with arrows, mutilated wallabies and emus, wombats with gunshot wounds and many other illegal activities were described by rangers. They also described ducking to avoid gunshots from illegal hunting, dealing with groups of intoxicated armed hunters, and increases in the number of people who believed it was already ''open season'' in National Parks. Even the State Governments own risk assessment on hunting has warned that it will put Park users at risk of being shot or injured.

 In Italy where laws and regulations are as lax and ‘hunter-friendly’ as the Shooters and Fishers Party, 13 people were killed in hunting accidents and 33 wounded in the first six weeks of the 2012 shooting season.

To date, The Game Council has negotiated; to prevent anti-hunting protests by making it an offence "to interfere with a person who is lawfully hunting game animals on public hunting land" (including National Parks) and that hunting areas will not be closed off to the public despite risks to park users.” Hunters will have to operate under strict conditions being; "All participants will be required to have a firearms licence, be a member of a registered hunting club, pass a hunter education test and have a restricted licence from the NSW Game Council. There will be no shooting at night, no harming of native fauna, no shooting without written permission from NPWS, no shooting accompanied by dogs, no target practice, no shooting from or across public access roads, tracks or trails and no shooting from vehicles in any of the declared national parks or reserves."

Just 14 per cent of NSW gun owners hold a restricted licence - known as an ''R-licence'' - allowing them to hunt feral animals. The risk assessment report, produced by the Office of Environment and Heritage, described this minority group as ''the responsible end of the hunting community''. ''In contrast to them are a large group of unlicensed hunters, a significant proportion of who hunt illegally. Many of these have far more limited education and training, their use of firearms is often associated with the use of alcohol and other socially irresponsible behaviour, and they frequently hunt at night to avoid detection.''

The Game Council employs just four full-time staff who already oversee shooting in 1.75 million hectares of state forests. With the addition of another 2 million hectares, that would give each Council employee the equivalent of nearly 1 million hectares of land to oversee.

The National Parks Association of NSW, stated that “the Game Council costs NSW taxpayers $2.5 million a year to operate and is the wrong agency to regulate hunting. The system at present cannot be managed, and last month the Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, told a parliamentary committee that not a single extra dollar or any new staff would be directed to the National Parks and Wildlife Service to monitor shooting.
Bow hunters are now also preparing to hunt in National Parks and to make matters worse the next item on the ‘to do list’ is to bring back duck hunting.

As a result of this new law, Bushwalkers will now have to pay the price for increased insurance costs to reflect the risk of being shot. The insurance broker to the state's 55 biggest bushwalking clubs has confirmed that public and private liability costs would inevitably rise as a result of the added risk & that insurance companies would think twice about offering cover or ''load the premium'' for walkers. The state's biggest bushwalking club, the National Parks Association, said it fears its insurance bill could double.

Tourism will also be affected. One local Tourism operator is already looking for another option as she does not want to put her clients at risk in National Parks.
Probably the group with major concern are those who neighbour our National Parks. Already a foal was shot on a NSW property by illegal rogue hunters in the adjoining NP. Livestock, pets, visitors and families will also be at risk from stray bullets or arrows.

Kevin Evans, the chief executive of the National Parks Association, said the deal to allow hunting in NP’s was ''absurd'' and their objective is to see the law repealed. The NPA have started a campaign and hope to collect 10,000 signatures to take to parliament.  Please donate or sign their petition at
S. McGrigor
Ref: NPA & No Hunting in National Parks websites & links

Parks specifically excluded from Hunting:


Blue Mountains National Park, Bouddi National Park, Brisbane Water National Park, Cattai National Park, Dharawal National Park, Dharug National Park, Garigal National Park, Georges River National Park, Heathcote National Park, Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Lane Cove National Park, Marramarra National Park, Popran National Park, Royal National Park, Scheyville National Park, Sydney Harbour National Park, Thirlmere Lakes National Park, Wollemi National Park, Yengo National Park, Agnes Banks Nature Reserve, Castlereagh Nature Reserve, Dalrymple-Hay Nature Reserve, Dharawal Nature Reserve, Georges River Nature Reserve, Gulguer Nature Reserve, Kemps Creek Nature Reserve, Mulgoa Nature Reserve, Muogamarra Nature Reserve, Newington Nature Reserve, Pitt Town Nature Reserve, Prospect Nature Reserve, Towra Point Nature Reserve, Wallumatta Nature Reserve, Wambina Nature Reserve, Wianamatta Nature Reserve, Windsor Downs Nature Reserve, Berowra Valley Regional Park, Leacock Regional Park, Rouse Hill Regional Park, William Howe Regional Park, Wolli Creek Regional Park, Yellomundee Regional Park, Bents Basin State Conservation Area, Dharawal State Conservation Area, Garawarra State Conservation Area, Maroota Ridge State Conservation Area, Parr State Conservation Area

Parks (or part of parks) removed Because they are in a World Heritage Area:

Barrington Tops National Park, Border Ranges National Park, Captains Creek Nature Reserve, Cunnawarra National Park, Dorrigo National Park, Gibraltar Range National Park, Iluka Nature Reserve, Koreelah National Park, Limpinwood Nature Reserve, Mallanganee National Park, Mebbin National Park, Mount Clunie National Park, Mount Hyland Nature Reserve, Mount Nothofagus National Park, Mount Royal National Park, Mount Seaview Nature Reserve, New England National Park, Nightcap National Park, Numinbah Nature Reserve, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, Richmond Range National Park, The Castles Nature Reserve, Tooloom National Park, Toonumbar National Park
Washpool National Park, Werrikimbe National Park, Willi Willi National Park, Wollumbin National Park, Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, Blue Mountains National Park, Gardens of Stone National Park, Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve, Kanangra-Boyd National Park, Nattai National Park, Thirlmere Lakes National Park, Wollemi National Park, Yengo National Park, Mungo National Park
Lord Howe Island Marine Park, Wilderness areas have also been excluded.







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